He was what you would call a medium tall man of average smallness

Japutra

Senior Member
Russian - Ukraine
Still, now I have an even worse trouble...

I am totally at a loss-


He [Henry Horsecollar] was easy and romping in his ways; a man about six foot, with a kind of rubber-tire movement. Yes, he was a little man about five foot five, or five foot eleven. He was what you would call a medium tall man of average smallness.
What are they talking about? I mean in terms of Henry's height. Was he actually "tall" or "small" according the common beliefs of that time?

What this passage is intended to tell the reader?

Thank you in advance!
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It is a deliberately contradictory bit of nonsense intended to tell the listener that the storyteller does not care about an accurate presentation of facts, and that everything in the tale to follow should be taken with a very large grain of salt.
     

    TriglavNationalPark

    Senior Member
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    I see that even the first sentence contradicts itself: "He [Henry Horsecollar] was easy and romping in his ways; a man about six foot, with a kind of rubber-tire movement." I'm not sure exactly what "rubber-tire movement" looks like (I think that's part of the joke), but it's certainly not "romping".
     

    Japutra

    Senior Member
    Russian - Ukraine
    Guys!

    Please remember that we are talking about the end of the 19th century or the very beginning of the 20th century.

    Are you sure that "six foot" was average height in that time?

    My first thought was he was actually very tall (don't forget - he played football) and later O Henry is mocking on it saying "small" about an apparently very tall and big person.

    What you think of it?
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    I'm not sure it really matters what the average height was at that time.

    He's described as being six foot tall, five foot five, or five foot eleven (there's a big difference between 5'5'' and 5'11'', by the way). What makes you think the "six foot" description is the accurate one?
     

    Japutra

    Senior Member
    Russian - Ukraine
    I'm not sure it really matters what the average height was at that time.

    He's described as being six foot tall, five foot five, or five foot eleven (there's a big difference between 5'5'' and 5'11'', by the way). What makes you think the "six foot" description is the accurate one?
    Ok, I see. :)

    It is a deliberately contradictory bit of nonsense intended to tell the listener that the storyteller does not care about an accurate presentation of facts, and that everything in the tale to follow should be taken with a very large grain of salt.
    Thank you very much!

    I see that even the first sentence contradicts itself: "He [Henry Horsecollar] was easy and romping in his ways; a man about six foot, with a kind of rubber-tire movement." I'm not sure exactly what "rubber-tire movement" looks like (I think that's part of the joke), but it's certainly not "romping".
    Nice point ... I didn't think of that ...
     
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